Denzel Washington’s 2003 blockbuster directorial debut motion picture Antwone Fisher features a great book: The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
The Oscar award winning Washington both directs and acts in the movie. As naval psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Davenport he’s working with sailor Antwone Fisher. At one point, Davenport (Washington) tells Fisher (Derek Luke) to read The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey as a way of building his self-esteem as a Black man.
The Philosophy and Opinions has long been recognized as one of the great inspirational works. Garvey’s book is available as a free download. It is available for free download at either Archive.org or the Journal of Pan African Studies.
The scene where Dr. Davenport gives Antwone a copy of Dr. Tony Martin’s The Majority Press edition of The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey is pivotal. The gift was flung in anger when Fisher believed he was being abandoned upon Davenport’s announcement their sessions had to end. It is also the scene where Antwone has his final burst of anger.
That emotion puts him in a state forcing him to admit or recognize its source: the death of his childhood friend named Jesse. Witnessing the shooting led to Antwone joining the Navy. The revelation gives Fisher a sense of clarity and relief. He accepts the challenge of the hero’s journey with a decision to set out and find his biological family. Dr. Davenport and Antwone admit their love for each other. That is a breakthrough for the both of them. They each can now move on with their lives and fully be who they were meant to be.
Lastly, Antwone picks up the P&O he flung in anger previously. That act further shows he has reconciled with the destiny he rejected earlier in the scene. It is then he realizes Davenport as a good friend instead of a surrogate father. His final act in the scene of brushing debris from the book indicates it is treasured as a memento of all that has transpired.
Like all good props, whether they be Dorothy’s ruby slippers or Luke’ Skywalker’s lightsaber or Morpheus’ mirror shades, Antwone’s copy of the Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey not only transforms him, it alters how he is perceived, as well. Antwone clutches the book. As a gateway to a new life it has become a precious asset. Antwone’s retrieval of the book at scene’s end indicates a reconciliation with Dr. Davenport and the beginning of a new relationship for the two of them.
The audience is changed as well. They see intelligent men who read the P&O, give it as gifts and value it.